Robotic arms have been put to work repairing space shuttles, assembling automobiles, and even picking orders in warehouses and DCs. But now one company is looking to deploy them for arguably the most important task to date: dispensing frozen yogurt (froyo).
A San Diego-based company called Reis & Irvy's has developed a robotic froyo kiosk that serves up frozen yogurt on demand. Designed for installation at high-traffic locations like amusement parks, theaters, malls, hospitals, schools, and grocery stores, the brightly colored machines use a robotic arm to dispense the frozen yogurt (or gelato, soft-serve ice cream, or custard) within 60 seconds. Customers can choose from seven different flavors, with a choice of six toppings.
The company, which is offering the machines on a franchise basis, says they "bring the novelty of robotic delivery to the experience of selecting and savoring frozen yogurt." But novelty's not the only selling point; convenience and low overhead (no human labor is required) factor into it as well, according to Nick Yates, chairman and founder of parent company Generation Next Franchise Brands. Its partners in the venture include Hartfiel Automation, which manufactured the robotic arm; foodservice supplier Dannon YoCream; equipment manufacturers Flex Ltd. and Stoelting Food Service; and installation and servicing specialist Pitney Bowes.
If you happen to find yourself in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas in the coming months, keep an eye out for the robotic kiosks. An investor in the region just bought a $23 million franchise contract and plans to roll the machines out soon.